Sunday, December 25, 2011

Christmas Day - December 25, 2011

In the beginning was Jesus, and Jesus was with God, and Jesus was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through Jesus, and without Jesus not one thing came into being.  What has come into being in Jesus was life, and the life was the light of all people.  The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.

The Gospel of John does not begin with an account of the birth of Jesus in a stable in Bethlehem.  It says nothing of angels or shepherds or wise men.  Instead, it goes all the way back to the very beginning and it talks about Jesus in cosmic terms.  John calls Jesus, “The Word.”  And it is by this Word that God creates the world, “everything came into being through him.” 

This beautiful passage echoes the creation account in the first chapter of Genesis which says, “In the beginning, when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep, while the Spirit of God swept over the face of the waters.  Then God said, ‘Let there be light; and there was light......’ and it was good.”  It is by speaking that God creates life.  And it is by speaking that God makes it good.  And what God speaks is the Word, Jesus.

So then, what is Christmas?  Christmas is this, “And the Word became flesh and lived among us.”  Before Jesus came, how did people approach God?  When the Israelites were in the wilderness, it was Moses alone who went up on the mountain.  The rest of the people were terrified.  To stand in the presence of the living God was to die.  God allowed Moses to see a fleeting glimpse of his backside.  When Elijah stood on that same mountain, God passed by him, not in earthquake, nor in wind, nor in fire, but in the sound of sheer silence, a frightening thing.  And in the Temple, none could enter the Holy of Holies except for the High Priest and him only once a year.  The presence of God was a fearful thing, a terrifying and deadly experience.

That is, until God sent his Son, Jesus, the Word that was there at the very beginning.  And this Word came to us, not in terrifying form, but as a gentle and vulnerable baby.

Why?  Why does he send his Word at all?  And why in the form of a baby? 

God sends Jesus to do what he has always done, to create new life and to make things good by speaking.  This is what his ministry will be about.  He will heal people with his words.  He will cast out demons with his words.  He will forgive sins with his words.  And finally, as he dies on the cross, he will say, “It is finished.”

God sends the Word in the form of a human being, a mere baby, in order to be near to us, in order to speak to us face to face and deliver a word that creates us new, a word that makes us good simply because God himself has said it.

And so your God says to you, “You are my precious ones, the ones whom I love, the ones whom I have chosen.  Receive my Son, listen to him, let his words fill your ears and hearts.  He will make you new and  he will bring you to me.” 

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